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Survival with tiotropium compared to long-acting Beta-2-agonists in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the fourth-leading cause of chronic morbidity and mortality in North America and its burden continues to increase. Tiotropium has been shown to reduce exacerbations, hospitalizations, symptoms, and improve health-related quality of life in patients with COPD. Its effect on mortality and its effects relative to long-acting beta-agonists (LABAs), however, remain unknown.

To examine the association between tiotropium use compared to LABA use on all-cause mortality in older patients with COPD, a longitudinal, population-based cohort study was conducted in Ontario, Canada. Subjects were individuals 65 years and older discharged from hospital with a diagnosis of COPD between January 1, 2003 and March 31, 2006. The hazard of receiving a prescription for tiotropium compared to a long-acting beta-agonist on all-cause mortality at 180 days post-hospital discharge, controlling for a number of potential confounders, was eliminated. Data from 7,218 eligible patients were analyzed. Of these, 1,046 (14.5%) died in the follow-up period. Patients who received tiotropium were 20% less likely to die than those receiving a long-acting beta-agonist (hazard ratio 0.80, 95% confidence interval 0.70 to 0.93).

In conclusion, in older patients recently discharged from hospital for COPD, receiving tiotropium was found to be associated with reduced mortality at 6 months compared to receiving a long-acting beta-agonist. This result suggests that tiotropium might also be associated with decreased mortality compared to no treatment at all. Randomized placebo-control trials are needed to confirm these findings.



Gershon AS, Wang L, To T, Luo J, Upshur RE. COPD. 2008; 5(4):229-34.

Contributing ICES Scientists